Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blue Post: Underwater Combat, Uldum, Class Changes

Quote from Blizzard staff
Vashj'ir - Underwater Combat
We're working to ensure combat, breathing and travel are less cumbersome in this underwater zone than many of you may be thinking. The zone is quite large with a great deal of quest content and exploration to be done. In many areas you'll really get a deep ocean feel, but since you're questing down there, we want to make sure underwater gameplay is greatly improved. (Source)

Uldum / Larger 5-man Dungeons
There's a level 85 five-player dungeon you might just learn about soon which holds seven bosses in a single instance. It's in a place you may have heard of before... Uldum. ^.^ (Source)

Armor upgrades at level 40
We talked about changing it, but decided we liked it the way it is. It's a pretty nice reward to suddenly be able to equip mail or plate at higher level. By similar logic, you could argue that we should make helms, shoulders, trinkets and even mounts at low level because they're awesome upgrades and players are going to get them anyway.

It doesn't actually make the itemization simpler to add plate at lower levels. We have to create more items and make sure they are well distributed. That's not a huge consideration either way, but you listed it as a benefit and we don't see it like that.

We also don't think it's a huge balance problem either way. Nobody is so weak below level 40 that perfect gear optimization is really going to make a difference between success and failure.

The strongest justification for letting e.g. warriors use plate at level 1 is the feeling at level 40 of having to swap out all of your gear. But even in that case if you hold on to the mail for a few more levels until you get a more suitable quest reward you're not really going to be at a noticeable disadvantage. (Source)

Mage (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Winter's Chill
Yeah, we probably need to make Winter's Chill apply the entire stack at once like Improved Scorch and Improved Shadow Bolt. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Healing in Cataclysm
Our goal is for paladins to be able to raid heal. Don't look at the designs for spells that none of you have even been able to try and conclude those mechanics can't possibly allow you to raid heal and therefore our goal can't possibly be met and will therefore be abandoned. It's fine to raise concerns -- that's one of the reasons we announce stuff like this early -- but some of you are trying to get a spell buffed that you haven't even cast yet.

I will say our vision for the AE spell though is not that the paladin runs around constantly, but that you position yourself where you can do the most good. Sometimes that will be back with the healers. Sometimes that might be in the melee. Sometimes you'll have to spread out and your group healing won't be as efficient (in the same way a shaman's group healing isn't as good in the same scenario).

Tranquility is on a very long cooldown. It is not the way druids AE heal. We want to shift it from 5-person group to raid because we'd like to do that with every spell. Having to organize players by arbitrary group is a strange concept since it doesn't actually manifest itself in the real world (in the way distance from you on the battlefield does).

We aren't going to give paladins anything resembling Circle of Healing. One (or two) of those spells in the game is plenty.

Spirit will be a good stat to stack but only to a point. Once you can heal say a six minute boss fight without going out of mana, then any additional Spirit is pretty much wasted. At that point stats like crit start to look pretty attractive because they increase your spell's throughput without increasing the mana cost. Maybe you'll be able to heal someone with one cast, allowing you to swap over and heal another player. In today's healing environment, where a lot of that excess healing will be wasted overhealing, getting a huge crit on a spell isn't nearly as valuable.

We'll have to see how raid healing goes. We might be okay with the tendency for groups to still assign paladins to tank healing because they are particularly good at it. What we want to avoid are those cases where a group feels like they can't possibly keep tanks alive because they lack a paladin or they can't possibly keep groups alive because they have too many paladins. (Source)

Rogue (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Rogues Cooldowns

In actuality it's not quite this extreme, but the stereotypical rogue encounter is that if they have their cooldowns available, they're going to wreck you and if they don't have their cooldowns available, you're going to wreck them. Giving Cloak a chance to fail was a way to make sure that rogues couldn't guarantee that they would be immune to spells for a few seconds. Usually they would be, but sometimes they'd get unlucky and the lock or whoever would have a chance against them.

In Cataclysm, we want to reduce both extremes. That is, the rogue shouldn't feel invulnerable when they have all of their cooldowns available and they shouldn't feel helpless when they get caught without them. In that environment we think it's safe to remove the chance to fail because Cloak won't be the only thing that determines victory or defeat vs. a caster. Things like Smoke Bomb and larger health pools as well as other changes should help keep a rogue alive when Cloak is on cooldown. Likewise, the warlock won't be stunned so much so they won't be quite so frustrated when the rogue does pop CoS.

Having a ninety percent chance to succeed is actually a pretty frustrating place to be. At that point you aren't grateful when you roll lucky. You're mad because you were so unlucky. At 90% you start to count on something, which makes it worse for it to fail. If Cloak had a 10% chance to succeed (we wouldn't do that, but just for sake of argument) then you'd feel awesome when it did work because you got lucky. What I'm getting at is that it's not like we thought the 90% deal was super fun gameplay. We just thought it was necessary.

Without the entire gamut of Cataclysm changes though, we're not sure rogues need a PvP survival boost at the moment.

My paladin comment above was more poking at the silliness of expressing "Gotcha!" because we figured out a way that we're comfortable getting rid of a 10% chance to fail on Cloak of Shadows. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
It isn't necessary to change Bladestorm just because Whirlwind changes. If you want to blow the cooldown for a single target damage boost we don't really have a problem with that. Whirlwind was balanced around doing single target damage, which meant it just got free damage when there was more than one target. Bladestorm by contrast doesn't amount to a sizable chunk of damage in PvE. (Source)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vashj'ir: Surviving the Depths – World of Warcraft

Quote from: Blizzard (Source)
Once a great Highborne city housing some of the most revered night elves of Kalimdor, Vashj'ir was swallowed by the Great Sea in the Sundering and thought to be lost forever. Queen Azshara, formerly a beloved leader of the Highborne, escaped death in the depths of the sea when the Well of Eternity imploded. Such salvation came at a great cost, as the queen and many of her fellow Highborne were forever transformed into the monstrous naga, doomed to wander the seas for thousands of years. Their existence mostly remains a mystery to the peoples of modern Azeroth, though the Earthen Ring has learned of Azshara's naga seizing Vashj'ir for an unknown purpose as the cries of the elements echo across Azeroth from the Abyss.

The Sunken City
Vashj'ir is a level 78-82 zone in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm where players will be called to explore the depths of the Great Sea and stop the naga from seizing immeasurable power from the realm of Neptulon the Tidehunter. This expansive underwater zone will feature an unprecedented fight for survival against the naga overwhelming the area, several new quest hubs -- including Alliance and Horde naval ships and submarines -- all-new underwater travel and combat mechanics, several pocketed undersea caves free from water's grip, two new five-player dungeons (Throne of the Tides and Abyssal Maw), and the first-ever opportunity to explore the remains of the once-majestic city of Vashj'ir!

Bottled Distress Message Found Adrift at Sea
Need your help. Time is short. I'm held captive in what I hope to be a nightmare.

Enjoying the ocean air just days ago. We were determined to control key trade routes through victory at sea over the Horde. Their fleet came into our scopes. Our world became the deafening sound of battle, the smell of gunpowder, and the feeling of fear. Looking back now, though, that wasn't real fear.

We weren't alone in those waters. Our naval warfare attracted attention and rendered us prey. With our vessel already torn apart and taking on water, we saw a tremendous creature rise from the depths and shatter the hull, sucking us down to the sea floor. It all happened so fast. I was quick to tread the waters, hoping to regroup with any survivors I could find through a dense garden of kelp, constantly gasping for a chance breath. That's when the onslaught began. From all directions swarms of brutal naga swept through and captured a great many of us. Beaten near to death, I awoke in agony, bound in chains.

And here I still sit. I can only describe our prison as very big and somehow very much alive. We're in the hands of the naga now. Surviving crewmates in better condition than me are driven into slave labor.

One escaped. Thomas. He didn't make it far before I saw him dragged back. Before being forced into labor, he spoke in a panic about some large shell protecting this living prison, expansive night elf ruins in the distance, strange naga rituals underway, and sea vrykul battling our captors. He made little sense. Could be mad. Or I could be mad to hope vrykul are fighting to free us.

Prison patrols out again. Send word to Stormwind. Sunken city far from extinct. Naga plotting something horrific. Please help.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cataclysm Class Preview: Paladin

Quote from: Nethaera (Source)
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm we’ll be making several changes to class talents and abilities across the board. While this list only outlines some of our plans for the paladin class, we want to give you a look at the new high-level abilities and an overview of how the new Mastery system will work with each talent spec.

New Paladin Spells

Blinding Shield (level 81): Causes damage and blinds all nearby targets. This effect might end up only damaging those facing the paladin’s shield, in a manner similar to Eadric the Pure's ability Radiance in Trial of the Champion. The Holy tree will have a talent to increase the damage and critical strike chance, while the Protection tree will have a talent to make this spell instant cast. 2-second base cast time. Requires a shield.

Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.

Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85): Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. The visual is similar to that of the Resurrection spell used by the paladin in Warcraft III. The guardian has a different effect depending on the talent spec of the paladin. For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. For Protection paladins, the guardian absorbs some incoming damage. For Retribution paladins, it damages an enemy, similar to the death knight Gargoyle or the Nibelung staff. 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears).

Next you will find a list of some of the paladin spell and ability changes, followed by our intentions for improving each talent tree for the release of Cataclysm. There will be further changes, but those revealed below should offer some insight into our goals.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

  • Crusader Strike will be a core ability for all paladins, gained at level 1. We think the paladin leveling experience is hurt by not having an instant attack. Retribution will be getting a new talent in its place that either modifies Crusader Strike or replaces it completely.
  • Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons.
  • Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes.
  • Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • We want to ease off the defensive capabilities of Retribution and Holy paladins slightly. We think the powerful paladin defenses have been one of the things holding Retribution paladins back, especially in Arenas. One change we’re considering is lowering Divine Shield’s duration by a couple of seconds. Having said that, Retribution does pretty well in Battlegrounds, and Battlegrounds will be a much bigger focus in Cataclysm since they can provide the best PvP rewards. Furthermore, the healing environment of Cataclysm is going to be different such that a paladin may not be able to fully heal themselves during the duration of Divine Shield to begin with, so this may not be a problem.
  • We feel Retribution paladins need one more mechanic which involves some risk of the player pushing the wrong button, making the rotation a bit less forgiving. In addition, we want to add to this spec more PvP utility. Right now the successes of the Retribution paladin in PvP seem to be reduced to either doing decent burst damage, or just being good at staying alive.
  • We want to increase the duration of Sacred Shield to 30 minutes and keep the limit to one target. The intention is that the paladin can use it on their main healing target. That said, we would like to improve the Holy paladin toolbox and niche so that they don’t feel quite like the obvious choice for tank healing while perceived as a weak group healer.
  • We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains the expensive, fast heal and Holy Light is the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light will be changed to work with Flash of Light. We like the ability, but want paladins to use it intelligently and not be constantly healing for twice as much.
  • Holy paladins will use spirit as their mana regeneration stat.
  • Protection paladins need a different rotation between single-target and multi-target tanking. Likewise, we're looking to add the necessity to use an additional cooldown in each rotation.
  • Holy Shield will no longer have charges. It will be designed to improve block chance while active, and will continue to provide a small amount of damage and threat.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • Critical Healing Effect

Meditation: This is the spirit-to-mana conversion that the priest, druid, and shaman healers also share.

Critical Healing Effect: When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more.

  • Damage Reduction
  • Vengeance
  • Block Amount

Vengeance: This is the damage-received-to-attack-power conversion that all tanks share.

Block Amount: We want to keep the kit of the paladin as a tank who blocks a lot. So by contrast, the warrior tank will sometimes get critical blocks, but the paladin will absorb more damage with normal blocks.

  • Melee Damage
  • Melee Critical Damage
  • Holy Damage

Holy Damage: Any attack that does Holy damage will have its damage increased.

This concludes this Cataclysm preview for the paladin class. The development of these changes will continue to evolve in the coming months. Please be sure to provide any feedback and thoughts you might have on what was covered here.


Here's a bit more clarification on some of these changes. Also, please keep in mind that this is merely a preview and we'll still have more to go in testing up to and including any other changes that aren't listed here in the preview.

We've updated the Flash of Light reference to make it a bit more clear in the original post as follows.

  • Flash of Light remains a fast heal, but will be more expensive to justify the cast speed. Holy Light will be the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light needs to be changed so that its benefit is letting the paladin heal two targets at once, not letting the paladin get two heals for the mana cost of one. It’s intended to save GCDs and targeting time, not mana.

In addition we’re changing the paladin heal design to match that of the other healers. Holy Light is the middle heal. It’s very efficient, but not particularly fast and doesn’t have a lot of throughput. Flash of Light will be the faster heal that costs more mana. (Currently paladins sort of flip the model around by having a fast, efficient heal.) Holy paladins can talent into an additional heal that is like a giant Holy Light. It might take three of these big heals (or two crits) to get a tank from death’s door back to 100% health.

Currently on live, Beacon of Light is a tool that allows paladins to target more than just the main tank. In Cataclysm if it just doubles their healing, it is going to be overpowered. We have two ways we might handle this and we’ll experiment to see which feels better. The first is that Beacon only works on some heals, such as Flash of Light or Holy Light (but not the big one). An alternative idea is that Beacon increases the mana cost of a heal cast on a beaconed target, since you’re essentially getting a double heal. Under this model, Beacon itself would cost no mana.

Also on the live realms currently, paladins have huge mana pools and massive throughput. The trade-off is that they are excellent single target healers and much weaker in other roles. We want paladins to be slightly more interchangeable with other healers. In Cataclysm, you should be able to have a Holy priest on the tank and a Holy paladin on the raid. We’re not sure we’ll back off of the current healing roles completely, but we definitely want to add more breadth to those whose roles are currently too narrow.

As for the Guardian of Ancient Kings. First, it's important to understand that this is not a pet nor does it have a pet bar associated with it. Second, it's also not meant to last for very long. So, it's not a pet in the traditional sense. It's a friend in need when you need it, but not a permanent companion. 

Mount Hyjal: In defense of Nordrassil

Quote from: Blizzard (Source)
For years, Mount Hyjal and the wounded World Tree, Nordrassil, have remained cut off from the rest of Azeroth. Sealed away within a protective field of dense foliage by Malfurion Stormrage, Nordrassil has been slowly recovering from the devastation of the Third War, when Malfurion called upon the tree's power to destroy the archdemon Archimonde and repel the forces of the Burning Legion and Scourge. Now, with the impending cataclysm, the World Tree's well-being is threatened once more. From the Firelands within the Elemental Plane, Ragnaros and his minions prepare to burst into Hyjal and set Nordrassil ablaze -- and the conflagration would endanger all life on Azeroth.

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, players will have the opportunity to explore the newly reopened Mount Hyjal as Azeroth's heroes, with the help of Ysera, Malfurion Stormrage and Hamuul Runetotem, are called upon to push back the armies of the Firelord, banish Ragnaros to the Elemental Plane and lay waste to the twilight dragon stronghold in nearby Darkwhisper Gorge. This all-new level 78-82 zone will feature multiple quest hubs, phased terrain and quest lines, portals to micro-zones within the Firelands, an all-new raid dungeon, and much more.

The World Tree
Players will be able to enter Hyjal by way of Moonglade, to take on a series of high-stakes quests in a historic location alongside some of Azeroth's most renowned heroes. With a longstanding rivalry among the night elf leadership threatening to undermine the campaign against Deathwing, players will quickly discover the task of defending Nordrassil is more daunting than they had anticipated. In order to succeed, they must seek out the help of extremely powerful allies: the Ancients.

The Ancients
To protect Nordrassil and heal the devastation the invading fire elementals are causing across Mount Hyjal, players must first recapture the shrine of the wolf god Goldrinn. The ogres surrounding the shrine will not leave peacefully, but seizing the shrine will allow players their first opportunity to infiltrate the Firelands and shut down a key Twilight portal, slowing the advance of the nearby Twilight's Hammer in Hyjal.

With the first portal dismantled, players will soon be sought by the wilderness spirit Aessina to assist in cleansing and healing the nearby forest, ultimately returning the land to its former splendor. This small victory, however, isn't enough to deter the Twilight Remnants from attempting to scorch the forest once more. As you struggle to keep these foes at bay, you'll also need to help the Guardians of Hyjal -- a new neutral faction of druids and worshippers of the Ancients -- repopulate the forest with animal life. It's even rumored that Malorne has been spotted in the wilderness. Perhaps further investigation is necessary....

Amid the chaos, the Druids of the Talon will need players' assistance to resurrect the goddess of winged creatures. Players begin the process by helping to slay a group of black dragons and closing a second Firelands portal from within. Just when you think things might be heating up, you'll need to fight through a burning night elf town to shut down the third and final portal with the assistance of the turtle god Tortollus.

Darkwhisper Gorge
Your successes in Hyjal will ultimately lead you to the assembly of the Ancients, who have set a plan in motion to bring a powerful ally and demigod back into this realm. Before that can happen, however, you will need to infiltrate Darkwhisper Gorge disguised as a follower of the Twilight's Hammer, acting quickly to sow discord within the entrenched faction, weakening it for the coming struggle. Only time will tell if the Ancients' plan is a success -- but you'll need to do your part if there's any hope of saving Mount Hyjal from the twilight dragons, Ragnaros, and his minions of the Elemental Plane.

More information on this all-new level-85 raid dungeon is coming soon.

Blue post: Mastery balancing, Bloodlust/Heroism and Healing Philosophy

Quote from Blizzard staff
Balancing masteries
Adjusting the third bonus is dangerous, because that is the one tied to mastery rating on gear. If we make that stat too good, then you might want mastery at the expense of crit or haste and get offended if there isn't tons of mastery on your tier sets.

Adjusting the first two passives, especially the first one, which is just damage for Elemental, is a lot safer. It's not a huge deal if Elemental gets 0.25 % damage per talent point spend and Enhancement gets 0.21 % damage per talent point spent as long as the end result of dps is pretty close.*

* - "pretty close" will be defined by players as "nobody should ever beat me, irrespective of encounter, gear or my own personal button mashing routine." Smiley (Source)

Bloodlust/Heroism on more classes
We do want to make sure that 10 player raids can get all of the major buffs a little easier. You should feel like most reasonable comps (3 warriors and 7 rogues is not what we'd consider reasonable) give you all of the major buffs and several of the more minor ones. There will be a little more consolidation than what we've described so far.

We are scaling back the magnitude of some of the buffs, as we did with Sunder Armor. We want you to feel awesome when you have strong good synergy, but we don't want the buffs to overwhelm say your gear or skill. We're also planning on getting rid of any talent that buffs a buff. Any buff that is earned solely by talent needs to have a selfish component thrown in so that you don't feel like you should respec if someone else with that buff comes along.

Obviously things like Rebirth can't just be handed to out to more classes unless we did something like a second exhaustion mechanic for battle rez or whatever. For now we're going to try the cooldown at 30 min again. In Icecrown's world of limited attempts, a 30 min cooldown likely meant you just cooled your heels until the cooldown was available again. In Cataclysm the hope is sometimes you'll have the benefit available but not every time, which scales back on how much of a game-changer it is. (Source)

Healing Philosophy
I have found this philosophy to be a tough one to communicate. Painted broadly, we have some players who chose healing because they like to be challenged and we have some players who chose healing because they like to be the hero. In LK, raid healing can definitely be stressful at times, but we're not actually convinced the challenge is there. After a tough fight, whether it was succesful or not, ask yourself what you should have done differently. Did you use the wrong heal in the wrong situation? I'd suspect not since most healers have pretty stringent rotations these days where you use your strongest heals on cooldown and fill in the time left with your next strongest heals and so on. Did you heal the wrong person at the wrong time? Probably not because anyone you failed to heal was probably about to die. You probably overhealed a lot because there is little consequence for overhealing.

Go back and look at a few videos of BC raid encounters. A couple of points may be strking. One, several characters may be at various stages of injury -- the healers could not keep them all topped off. Second, the healers may be at various stages of mana -- in other words, it's not just a matter of having more GCDs before everyone is fine again. It's a matter of triage.

Triage is one of the things missing from today's healing game (even though you likely learned First Aid through a triage quest). Loosely defined, triage is deciding who needs immediate attention (vs. who is stable vs. who is a lost cause). We want healers to be able to make decisions like "The tank is wounded, but she is unlikely to die in the next few hits, and hots are ticking on her, so she's probably okay for a moment and I can heal this Ret paladin over here," vs. "The rogue is wounded, but my big heal would overheal for a ton and I need the mana, so I can use a small heal." We want the dps to likewise be thinking about ways to minimize damage on themselves, not because they'll die in a global (i.e. before they could respond anyway) but because the healers are going to risk running out of mana.

Today, in LK, healing risks feeling even more like whack-a-mole. Injury? Heal. Injury? Heal. You're testing your reflexes more than your decision-making ability. Whack-a-mole can be challenging, but it doesn't have much depth. It's easy to add depth though. Let's start with the notion that there are two hammers. The little hammer can dispatch most of those moles, but sometimes you can use your big hammer too. The big hammer has limited charges or whatever. Now let's have some of the moles pop out a little slower so that you have time to consider which hammer to use. See where I'm going with this?

Running out of mana doesn't have to be, and won't be, the only reason you fail an encounter. But it is a point of failure that we don't have today. Adding it back in will make the encounters feel more distinct from each other and will actually, we believe, make healing more interesting and ultimately more fun. I agree it's going to be a tough sell though. In one of our playtests recently, the healer came back frazzled. "I couldn't keep everyone topped off," she said. "It took me half the dungeon to realize that I didn't have to." Once that clicked, she said she started having fun. Hopefully it will click with other players quickly too. (Source)

We're not killing off Arenas, nor do we regret introducing them. (Rob said in an interview once that we regretted *how* we introduced them. Big difference.)

Part of the problem with how we introduced Arena was we offered extremely powerful rewards that were available relatively easily. Everyone I know participated in Arena at the start of BC. Were they having fun? Several of them weren't. But they figured the had to do it to stay competitive. In fact, in BC the PvP rewards were so easy and required such little time per week to get that they threatened to divert a lot of players from raiding to get epics.

Flash forward to Lich King. We made it harder, in that it took more actual wins, to earn great PvP rewards. At the same time, we made raiding much more accessible. This got a lot of the players who didn't want to participate in Arenas out of there. But it wasn't enough. We still had a lot of players who liked PvP and / or didn't enjoy raiding who still felt like Arenas were there only avenue to great gear. Unfortunately, if they weren't that good, or if they picked a spec that wasn't that good, or they picked a comp that wasn't that good, then they were just spinning their wheels since we no longer offered them great rewards for just losing matches each week.

The idea behind rated BGs is to be able to offer the best PvP rewards through both Arenas or BGs. If you love BGs but don't like Arenas, you can still get great rewards. If you love Arenas, hopefully the experience will be even better for you because the guys who don't like Arenas will be off doing something else. If you like both Arenas and BGs, great, you have more choices in what you do that week. If you like PvP but still lose a lot, yes you're still going to be a season behind the guys who win a lot. We'll reward you gear just for participating, but if you want th best gear, you still need to win. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Late Cataclysm class preview for Paladins
We figured no matter who was last they were going to feel victimized. You shouldn't try and interpret too much by the order of the previews though. The fact is we're just not as far along on paladins as we are the other classes. We find it easier to work on a few classes at a time rather than say work on one class on Monday then a different class on Tuesday and keep rotating through them. We didn't pick paladin last because we hate them or because they need the most work or the least work or anything. It's pretty much totally random.

We haven't torn up the paladin talent trees in earnest yet, so the preview will likely be heavy on design intent and light on details. One of the changes we'll continue to emphasize with Retribution is trading more defenses for offense. A defensive dps spec just doesn't work really well in WoW. (Source)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cataclysm Class Preview: Mage

Quote from: Bashiok (Source)
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, we’ll be making lots of changes and additions to class talents and abilities across the board. In this preview, you’ll get an early look at what's in store for the mage class, including a rundown of some of the new spells, abilities, and talents, and an overview of how the new Mastery system will work with the different talent specs.

New Mage Spells

Flame Orb (available at level 81): Inspired by Prince Taldaram’s abilities in Ahn'kahet and Icecrown Citadel, this spell allows the mage to cast a flaming orb that travels in front in a straight line, sending beams that cause fire damage to passing targets. Once it’s cast, the mage is free to begin casting other spells as the Flame Orb travels. While the spell will be useful to any spec, Fire mages will have talents that improve it, possibly causing the Flame Orb to explode when it reaches its destination.

Time Warp (level 83): Grants a passive Haste effect much like Bloodlust or Heroism to party or raid members. It also temporarily increases the mage's own movement speed. Time Warp will be exclusive with Bloodlust and Heroism, meaning you can’t benefit from both if you’ve got the Exhaustion debuff, though the movement-speed increase will still work even when under the effects of Exhaustion.

Wall of Fog (level 85): Creates a line of frost in front of the mage, 30 yards from end to end. Enemies who cross the line are snared and take damage. The mana cost will be designed to make Wall of Fog efficient against groups, not individuals. This spell is intended to give mages a way to help control the battlefield, whether the mage is damaging incoming enemies (Blizzard can be channeled on top of Wall of Fog) or protecting a flag in a Battleground. 10-second duration. 30-second cooldown.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

In addition to introducing new spells, we're planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you're familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we intend for each spec.

  • Arcane Missiles is being redesigned to become a proc-based spell. Whenever the mage does damage with any spell, there is a chance for Arcane Missiles to become available, similar to how the warrior’s Overpower works. The damage and mana cost of this spell will be reworked to make it very desirable to use when available. This change should make gameplay more dynamic for the mage, particularly at low levels.
  • We are planning to remove spells that don't have a clear purpose. Amplify Magic, Dampen Magic, Fire Ward, and Frost Ward are being removed from the game, and we may remove more.
  • The ability to conjure food and water will not become available until higher levels (likely around level 40), as we're making changes to ensure mages generally won’t run out of mana at lower levels. Once mages learn how to conjure food and water, the conjured item will restore both health and mana.
  • Scorch will provide a damage bonus to the mage's fire spells. Our goal is for Scorch to be part of the mage's rotation and a useful damage-dealing ability, even if someone else is supplying the group with the spell Critical Strike debuff. Scorch will provide the mage with more specific benefits, which can also be improved through talents.

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • Arcane Focus will now return mana for each spell that fails to hit your target, including Arcane Missiles that fail to launch. We want Arcane mages to have several talents that play off of how much mana the character has and give the player enough tools to manage mana.
  • The talent Playing with Fire will reduce the cooldown of Blast Wave when hit by a melee attack, instead of its current effect.
  • Pyromaniac will grant Haste when three or more targets are getting damaged by the effects of your damage-over-time (DoT) fire spells.
  • The Burnout talent will allow mages to cast spells using health when they run out of mana.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

  • Spell damage
  • Spell Haste
  • Mana Adept

Mana Adept: Arcane will deal damage based how much mana the mage has. For example, Arcane mages will do much more damage at 100% mana than at 50% mana. If they begin to get low on mana, they will likely want to use an ability or mechanic to bring their mana up to increase their damage.

  • Spell damage
  • Spell Crit
  • Ignite

Ignite: All direct-damage fire spells will add a damage-over-time (DoT) component when cast. The flavor will be similar to how Fireball works; however, the DoT component will be much stronger.

  • Spell damage
  • Spell Crit damage
  • Deathfrost

Deathfrost: Casting Frostbolt places a buff on the mage that increases the damage for all frost, fire, and arcane spells. The only damage spell that won't be affected by this buff is Frostbolt.

We hope you enjoyed this preview, and we’re looking forward to hearing your initial thoughts and feedback on these additions and changes. Please keep in mind that this information represents a work in progress and is subject to change as development on Cataclysm continues.